It seems like it’s taken some time to get here. Since the last International Women’s Day, we have seen numerous occasions where women’s rights and safeties have been threatened. On this day, it is important to keep in mind the work not yet completed while still celebrating the progress that has been made. That, in essence, is what International Women’s Day is all about – an acknowledgment of what has been accomplished, and a proclamation that decades later, we are still very much here, still marching.
International Women’s Day (IWD) was first recognized in New York on February 28th in 1909. The date was chosen by the International Women’s Conference of the Socialist Party to honor the 1908 New York garment workers’ protest where about 15,000 women marched against working conditions. However, the date was not consistent internationally and it did not become official until 1975 when the United Nations made March 8th the official date. In 1996, the first theme was announced: “Celebrating the Past – Planning for the Future.”
This year’s theme is #PressforProgress with the organization asking participants to “Commit to a ‘gender parity mindset’ via progressive action. Let’s all collaborate to accelerate gender parity, so our collective action powers equality worldwide.”
While as a collective we have celebrated for decades, the movement is still very necessary today. This past year we have seen movements like #TimesUp, #MeToo, and #WhyWeWearBlack at the forefront of our protests. Each movement demanded awareness and equal rights for women in the workplace as well as highlighting the gruesome stories of sexual violence millions of women have endured. This past year we have also seen our own president being publicly accused of sexually assaulting more than 15 women and the horrific stories of a former Olympic doctor sexually abusing more than 100 women. These are just the stories that made the spotlight. There are thousands of untold stories of sexual assault of women working in the agricultural industry, domestic violence, sex trafficking that exploits vulnerable girls, slut-shaming, pay inequality, and plenty more.
Despite the work that still needs to be done, every day we are making strides in the right direction: We have seen an Australian senator breastfeed her child in the Senate Chamber at Parliament house, an unexpected breastfeeding moment during a Gap photo shoot became the actual campaign, the Winter Olympics really becoming the women’s Olympics as NBC (for the first time) televised more minutes of women’s competition than men’s, the women of Wakanda being so unapologetically fierce, strong, and brave, and Emma Gonzalez – the Parkland shooting survivor who called out the president and the NRA with her passionate speech against gun violence.
Most recently, at this year’s Oscars, Frances McDormand took the stage to receive her Best Actress award for her work in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and in her speech, she took the time to showcase her female colleagues by asking every female nominee and any woman involved in the making of any nominated film to stand with her. She then ended her speech with two words: “Inclusion rider.” Which means that by contractual agreement, any actor can demand at least a 50% diversity in casting and in crew employees.
We are making strides.
The truth is, we are so badass. It really shouldn’t take our male counterparts this long to notice (to be fair, many see and stand in our greatness). However, if we must remind them, we will. To be part of the movement, check out International Women’s Day for more information on the event.